A more detailed account of our current show in the Mallin Gallery from the artist, Maria Velasco:
“A Very Long Night/La Noche Mas Largais my newest body of work using graphite drawings, large-scale digital prints, and an experimental animation.The graphite is directly applied to the gallery walls to represent different rooms of an iconic home—an entry hall, a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom—that act as backgrounds for large prints representing figures of children and adults, shadows, windows, and door openings, all of which are drawn to actual scale. The Installation also contains an animation, in which the same drawings and characters reappear again, unfolding as a series of non-linear events that take the children in and out of the “ordinary” world of their home and into inexplicable landscapes where the drawings come to life. Throughout the work, there are multiple allusions to role-playing, and the blurring of boundaries between what is real and what is fictional, creating an enigmatic space that invites viewers to unravel the mystery within the narrative.
The imagery is inspired by Juan Velasco’s book The Massacre Of The Dreamers> (Polibea Press, Madrid: 2010), and centers upon two children who play make-believe games of “Cowboys and Indians.” The children often allude to an adult character, disguised as “Buffalo Bill,” who visits them at night and plays with them, but in actuality, this person is a sexual predator who abuses them. Neither the book nor the imagery is intended as a literal illustration of child abuse, but rather, both aim to emphasize the tension between the psychological and the physical spaces that the different characters occupy and to highlight the vulnerability of the children as well as the menacing and mysterious presence of adults.
For the book, I produced a suite of six prints which combine the theme of the Old West with children’s drawings of “Cowboys and Indians”, as staged in the book. The formal choices that I make for the artwork are informed by my research on abuse including live testimonials of adult survivors who share their insight and memories of their experience. Additional research on sexual abuse reveals that the trauma may surface in the form of a made-up story, or a series of mixed events that appear nonsensical. Often, the abusers belong to the circle of “trusted adults” and lead the children to believe that the abuse is “okay” or a “game.” Consequently, the installation contains an array of domestic imagery, allusions to play, and children’s drawings that come to life, all interconnected as a series of non-linear events. The animation entitled “Your Ideal End” is in progress. As I begin to consider how the story might end, I realize of the potential for conversation with the community to invite them to conceive multiple ends and to discuss different experiences of “closure.” Supported by a Rocket Grant Research and Development grant, I am currently working with Bibliotherapist Biri Rottenberg to offer a series of workshops and seminars using various types of readings, writing, and drawing exercises to combine clinical and creative perspectives in relationship to child abuse cases. We are currently identifying a group of PhD students to participate through the University of Kansas Psychological Clinic and with their permission we will incorporate their ideas and ask them to craft “ideal” ends to the story, in hopes to explore multiple paths to healing. The meeting of Bibliotherapy and Art will provide them with tools and ideas to deal with child abuse cases during their training in an interdisciplinary environment. More information about this project is available at http://rocketgrants.org
I would like to thank my collaborators Matthew Gonzales and Shine Adams, without whom this work would not have been made possible. My sincerest appreciation goes to Carrie Beall, Jason Zeh, Steven Prohira, Solace Naeymi, Andrew Sims, and Anna Davis, who have lent an invaluable hand during the drawing and installation process. I would like to thank the Kansas City Artist Coalition for all the assistance they have provided me with staff, a generous crew of volunteers, and its Director, Janet Simpson, for inviting me to do this project in the first place. This project has been partially funded by a Lighton International Artist Exchange Program – a project of the Kansas City Artist Coalition, Kansas City, MO – and the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.”
See Velasco, along with Clyde Heppner (Charno Gallery), and James Beasley and Shannon Ross (Underground Gallery) until November 8th, 2013. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-5pm.
Photos Courtesy of Matthew Gonzales.